A Guide to Keyword Match Types

by Kedet | March 18, 2021

If you have run a Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Search Campaign on Google Ads, you most definitely had to choose a “Keyword Match Type”.


There’s no doubt it can be tricky and confusing.

As a business owner, your hope for Google Ads campaigns would be to show up for people who are actively searching for a business like yours with high intent to convert.

But how do you know if your keywords are working? Which keyword match type is right for you?

Google Search & The Importance
of Keywords

Did you know that Google processes 40,000 search queries every second? That means a whopping 3.5 billion searches a day!

This is why brands are working hard to nailing their keywords to serve their Search Ads to their target audience.

For PPC Search campaigns, you choose a goal: Sales, Leads, or Website Traffic.

Then create specific keywords and ad groups, set your target audience and budget, and start advertising. Of course, you then monitor and optimize your campaign as it runs and tracks your progress.

When running Paid Search campaigns, you only pay when someone clicks on your ad. Therefore, it’s crucial to have fine-tuned keywords relevant to your audience and not have an overly generic keyword that people might click on and waste your advertising budget.

Let’s say you’re a company that sells wine glasses. You don’t want people looking up “prescription eye glasses”  to click on your ad as you will have to pay for each click, relevant or not. That’s why there are different keyword match types to choose from to best optimize your coverage.

Keyword Match Types
Keywords are specific words or phrases which advertisers use to predict and match the term people type in the Search Engine when searching for a product or service, which then serves relevant ads to them in the search results page.

The Match Type examines how accurate and relevant the keyword matches a person’s search query, then determines if it qualifies for online auction. Advertisers will use the different matching options to deliver a variety of user searches. Let’s take a look the different types below.

Broad Match

Board Match is the default type for all your keywords unless you specify any other options. 

If you set it to this, ads might appear in search results related to your keyword, even if it doesn’t contain the actual phrase.

Some reasons to choose this option would be:

  • it helps with a broader audience reach
  • driving more people to your website
  • save time on building more intricate keyword lists
  • a simpler ad budget structure

Here’s Google’s example of how a Broad Match Keyword would work:

According to Google, Broad Match Types also takes the following into consideration:

  • The content of your landing page
  • The user’s recent online search activities
  • Other keywords in your ad group to gauge keyword context

Google doesn’t recommend using similar keywords like “blue coat” and “coat blue” because they would be recognized as duplicates, and whichever one has a higher Ad Rank would be chosen.

Phrase Match
Phrase Match – Ads will appear to people who use the exact phrase (or close variants) you specified in your search term.

Compared to Broad Match, Phrase Match is a level more targeted but is a step more flexible than the exact match. Advertisers get to control how close a keyword matches a person’s search term for their ad to appear.

Close variants can count as: misspelled words, single and plural forms, abbreviations, stemmings (like: fix and fixing), paraphrases, synonyms, and other keyword terms that might share the same meaning.

Exact Match
Out of all of the keyword match types, this is the most refined match type that provides no room for flexibility.

Exact match means people who search for something need to match your keyword exactly the way you set it up to be.

How it works is each Exact Match keyword comes with brackets, for example: [brown boots].

Here is Google’s example of how Exact Match works:

Negative Keywords

Negative keywords are used to exclude your ads from showing on search results you don’t want, which saves you money on irrelevant ad clicks.

An example would be: you are a shoe company that doesn’t sell dress shoes, you can add a negative keyword for dress shoes.

Here is a detailed example of different Negative Keywords that fall under each Match Type:

The Relationship Between Keywords & Landing Pages
If someone looks up a specific keyword and they click on your link, they expect to find what they are looking for. So no matter what keyword match type you choose to use in your PPC search ad campaign, it’s important to serve your audience with highly-relevant content and information of said-keyword. With so many search results out there, you need to make a good impression with your landing page.
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